7TH HEAVEN Dolphins chase Olympic dream after golden haul
AUSTRALIA’S new breed of Dolphins have the taste of greatness and will fearlessly chase the world No.1 swim team ranking at next year’s Rio Olympic Games.
Fuelled by the motivation of their breakthrough heroics at the world titles in Russia, where Australia won seven gold medals to outperform swimming giants USA (six gold) in Olympic events, the Dolphins want to convert this form into Olympic performance in 12 months.
The ghosts of the London Olympic debacle and toxic culture are well and truly buried, with confidence sky high and a new breed leading the way. Swimming Australia had targeted world supremacy by the 2020 Tokyo Games, but they can get the job done four years early in Rio.
Australia has three dual world champions in Mitch Larkin, Emily Seebohm and Bronte Campbell, and much potential among their minor medallists Cate Campbell, Cameron McEvoy, Mack Horton, Madison Wilson and Jess Ashwood.
Aged 19 to 23, they are Australia’s next golden generation who fell in love with the sport while watching the likes of Thorpe and Hackett in their prime.
The next step is to deliver like their idols at an Olympic Games, and this team has the ability to not just match Australia’s seven gold haul from the Beijing pool in 2008, but the potential to reach for the record eight-gold haul from the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games.
Importantly, this team came together at rock bottom.
They rebuilt their own culture, set their own standards and built a mateship that will hold them strong under the Olympic spotlight. Most of the swim team grew up racing each other as early teens and a decade later are pursuing world supremacy together.
“It’s a little unusual to have more than a decade of friendship or experience together when you are so young on an Australian team,” McEvoy said.
“That is something a lot of other teams don’t have at the moment.
Australia’s head coach, Jacco Verhaeren, warned about getting too excited taking the fight to the USA next year, and while he described the Dolphins’ performances as “phenomenal” in Russia he knows more improvement is still to come.
“We are still learning,” he said. “There were great performances but we still have a lot to do to make it happen on an Olympic stage as well.
“We are progressing. Next year the clock is going to start at zero again, the tally starts at zero again, it is a totally new competition with new challenges, but the team is ready.”